22 June 2007

Maria Flordeluna, Happy Slip and Levy Aureus

My column for this week's issue of Vox Bikol.

BY THE time this column comes out, the 93-episode run of Maria Flordeluna over ABS-CBN would have been over.

Now, I don’t usually follow the ratings of the two giants in Philippine television, but my gut feel tells me -- judging from my kids’ reaction to the penultimate episode Thursday evening -- Maria Flordeluna easily beat out its competition over at GMA.

My four year-old daughter Nokie in fact raised her arms in triumph, and started jumping up and down, as did her sisters, when Leo Alicante was finally reunited with Jo, Flor, Rene Boy, Wilma and Brigida. If you don’t know these names, you must be living in another planet.

I am happy ABS-CBN produced -- or perhaps more correctly, revived -- this soap opera. It allows my children to see something that was also part and parcel of my own childhood, even if what my generation saw then had a different storyline. In the ‘80s, Flordeluna was all the rage at RPN 9, with the late Julie Vega providing it stiff competition over GMA 7. They came at a time when television sets were mostly black-and-white, propelling Janice de Belen (as Flordeluna) and Herbert Bautista (as Rene Boy) to instant stardom.

But there is one name that I took mental note of as I followed the drama series: that of Marcos Navarro Sacol, who wrote the original script for Maria Flordeluna when it made its first run as a radio drama in the ‘70s.

Googling his name, I found out snippets about Mr. Sacol: it appears that he is a veteran Cebuano drama writer-director who, according to a Sun.Star columnist “wrote such hits as Milyonaryong Mini, Si Goot da Wanderpol, Maria Flordeluna, Hinog sa Punoan and several other radio, stage and television dramas that truly delighted audiences in the Visayas and Mindanao.” His latest work is Gugmang Dakog Mata, a comedy-drama-action teleserye that has been running over the Cebu Catholic Television Network since last year.

I have to mention this to hammer the point that being a promdi like Sacol should not prevent local writers from dreaming big. While it is true that it is difficult to penetrate the big leagues, the Manila-based networks whose powerbrokers essentially set the agenda, emerging internet-based technologies can provide a viable alternative.

The best example remains to be Christine Gambito, aka Happy Slip, a New York-based Filipina comedienne who is a bona fide star on YouTube. Again, in case you are out of the loop, YouTube “is a popular video sharing website where users can upload, view, and share video clips. Videos can be rated, and the average rating and the number of times a video has been watched are both published.” Time magazine selected it as the “invention of the year” for 2006.

"During the summer of 2006, YouTube was one of the fastest-growing websites on the World Wide Web…According to a July 16, 2006 survey, 100 million clips are viewed daily on YouTube, with an additional 65,000 new videos uploaded per 24 hours. The site has almost 20 million visitors each month, according to Nielsen/NetRatings…YouTube's preeminence in the online video market is staggering. According to the website Hitwise.com, YouTube commands up to 64% of the UK online video market."
And Christine? As I write this, her one-woman production outfit is the 11th most subscribed, and her videos 80th most viewed of all time in YouTube. So when she said that through YouTube she has the world for an audience, you better believe it.

How does Levy Aureus get into picture? If there is one thing common between Tio Levy and Happy Slip, it has to be their sense of humor. And Levy Aureus, I think, represents the Bicolano writer’s sharp wit and funny bone that have a place in the alternative world of YouTube. Mayor Robredo discovered this belatedly when he realized why his own book launching paled in comparison with what Aureus recently had: his obra was too serious for comfort.

The promdi Bicolano writer therefore, when he has a good story to tell like Sacol, armed with the humor of Aureus, and willing to push the boundaries of emerging technologies like Gambito, can rise above the confines of his physical environment and conquer this brave new world.

16 comments:

Filipinayzd said...

Kapag walang maisip na panapat sa kabilang isteysyon ng ABS, niririvayv nilang yung mga sumikat nun (Pera o Bayong ng MTB nasa Wowowee pa rin, Gulong ng Palad atbp.)

Salamat rin sa YouTube kundi wala akong pagkukunan ng mga TV Ads.

dave (",) said...

I don't know the characters of Flordeluna. Yes, I live in a different planet, the one with YouTube and DVDs in it :D

Oo nga. If they really can't think up of something original, instead of revivals (which do not add something new to our culture and hint at its stagnation), why not do a sequel of the classic telenovelas? I actually appreciate that GMA7 kept on expanding and linking its various fantaseryes (Mulawin, Encantadia, Etheria). At best this might have resulted to a Filipino counterpart of the Marvel and DC universes. Too bad the audience got tired of fantaseryes before the idea can take off.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Irvin: ABS indeed is guiltier of that than GMA. And its tendency to pile up ads during series enders -- like what it did last night -- is truly despicable. Walang kaclass-class!

But I think ABS put one over GMA this time around, returning the favor when the latter stole the thunder by introducing fantaseryes via Mulawin.

Dave: No offense meant. It's just a matter of taste.:)

Nonetheless, revivals are not entirely a bad thing. For instance, I wouldn't have known Mr. Sacol if not for Maria Flordeluna. I don't know, but I found its plot quite engaging, in fact better than the Flordeluna I knew.

Dominique said...

I was a big fan of Goot da Wanderpul -- and consequently of Teban and Guliat -- back in my college days in Cebu.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Don't look now, but I just saw this teaser: GMA's reviving "Mga Mata ni Angelita," which the late Julie Vega starred in.

I guess the TV wars on the "revivals" phase.:)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Nice stuff. I found a cool news widget for our blogs at www.widgetmate.com. Now I can show the latest news on my blog. Worked like a breeze.

Filipinayzd said...

Meteor Garden, pigpapalabas ngonyan sa GMA.
Marimar, sa GMA man giraray, Pinoy versyon.

Nag-aadimuhan kan mga tada-tadang followers? Pero dai ka, halangkaw ang ratings!

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Su aki kong si Nokie, pwerte an bayle kan sayaw ni Marimar. Feeling nya, mas magayon siguro sya ki Marian Rivera:)

alcogoodwin said...

Howdee,
Interesting to see that this Maria Flodeluna show was actually a revival of an old series.
I can't understand much Tagalog, being that I am an Aussie, but I was made watch it every night while in the Philippines and then got it here on TFC after we returned home.
My asawa was obsessed by it (actually she is obsessed by every series on TFC) and I have to admit, even I got into it a bit with the occasional translation help when things got complicated :-)
One constant source of amusement for us was that police (?) officer guy who seemed to be the main love interest of the woman. Couldn't he have changed his facial expression a bit more :-) He always seemed so grumpy :-)

Regards
Brad (Australia)
Philippine Railways SIG
http://www.geocities.com/steelhaven_ee/LocoShed.html

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